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07 September 2006

Muslim Convert Teacher sues Islamic School after boss asked if she was a virgin

(dailymail.co.uk)  An English teacher who converted to Islam when she joined a Muslim faith school was horrified when the owner asked questions about her virginity, a tribunal was told.  Monique Buckner, a 33-year-old South African...

Last updated at 10:55am on 7th September 2006

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An English teacher who converted to Islam when she joined a Muslim faith school was horrified when the owner asked questions about her virginity, a tribunal was told.

Monique Buckner, a 33-year-old South African said married father-of-five Hojjat Ramzy asked whether she was a virgin when the pair were alone in the school office.

The school boss also told her he would marry her if he was 20 years younger.

Ms Bucker told the tribunal: "In the office one day after school, Mr Ramzy told me that if he were younger, he would marry me.

"This disgusted me as I considered Mr Ramzy to be a pious Muslim whom I trusted and respected."

It followed failed attempts by 52-year-old Iranian-born Mr Ramzy to fix up an arranged marriage for Ms Buckner to a younger man.

The tribunal heard that the conversation took place while Ms Buckner was employed at IQRA, an Islamic Girls school in Oxford.

The teacher, a convert to Islam, is suing her former employers for racial discrimination.

She told the tribunal she had ignored Mr Ramzy after the "embarrassing" conversation about her virginity.

She said: "Mr Ramzy and I were not talking anymore because of the incident in the office. We did not see eye-to-eye on personal issues.

"He was interfering in my personal life."

Miss Buckner met Mr Ramzy in early 2005 at his Islamic information distribution stall in Cornmarket Street, Oxford.

After meeting him on numerous occasions she decided to follow his advice and convert to Islam.

She was given the Islamic name Hakima (meaning wisdom) and was wearing a Burka during the proceedings.

Ms Buckner, who was then teaching English at Bicester Community College, said she told Mr Ramzy she would have to return to her home country, South Africa, as her contract was due to end that summer and her work permit would expire.

But was delighted when Ramzy and his wife, Maryam Ramzy, head of administration at the school, offered her a job teaching English at IQRA School, starting in September.

Soon after she began working full-time, Ms Buckner said she was "horrified" to receive a pay slip showing she was to receive just £20 pounds payment per day.

She told the tribunal the other 10 teachers at the all-girls school were being paid at least £10 pounds per hour.

Arthur James, representing the school, said Ms Buckner, who had recognised English teaching qualifications, was only ever employed as a volunteer. However, Ms Buckner strongly denied the claim.

She said: "IQRA's school work permit application to the Home Office, which was completed by the headteacher and Mrs Ramzy and signed by Mr Ramzy, clearly states my full-time status,".

Ms Buckner complained verbally about her pay to Mr Ramzy who then gave her a £60 pounds a day wages rise.A week after the pay increase Mr Ramzy reduced her hours to just five a week.

Ms Buckner, is suing for racial discrimination and three breaches of the Employment Act - unpaid wages, holiday pay and notice pay.

The tribunal was adjourned until November

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